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Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Young adult woman speaking in a meetingYouth Voice means the empowerment and involvement of young people in all levels of services. For example: as individual consumers of services, as advisors to systems, or as members of a research team. Transitions ACR has recognized the importance of implementing a PAR (Participatory Action Research) Framework to support the employment and education efforts of youth and young adults (Y&YA) with serious mental health conditions. To ensure the young adult voice is represented, our PAR staff bring ACR tip sheets and products to mental health youth councils throughout Massachusetts for direct feedback.

Levels of Meaningful Youth Involvement in Participatory Action Research

Defining Different Levels of youth involvement are necessary when making an effective attempt at Participatory Action Research. The following levels of involvement were created and informed by our young adult PAR staff and National Youth Advisory Board (YAB) members.

Pyramid showing the 4 levels of meaningful youth involvementLevel 4 (Youth Led) is the highest level of involvement a Y&YA RRTC PAR Staff can have where they are involved from the beginning until the end of the project, taking the lead on research/Knowledge Translation planning, administration, implementation, and completion.*

Level 3 (Youth Partnered) is the second highest level of involvement a Y&YA RRTC PAR Staff can have where they are partnered with the project team since the early stages of the project, providing feedback through personal expertise, having equal decision-making power, and being recognized for their skill set.*

Level 2 (Youth Involved) is a lower level of involvement in which RRTC PAR Staff, interns, or volunteers who are Y&YA with SMHC take an active role in a project but are not involved much in decision-making processes, providing feedback through personal expertise during certain stages of the projects.

Level 1 (Youth Informed) is the lowest level of involvement in RRTC interns or volunteers who are Y&YA with SMHC provide feedback based on their personal expertise and have no decision-making ability, usually recruited from mental health youth advisory groups.

* Education and Training are provided as necessary to ensure full, informed participation. Right now, all RRTC projects are almost equally distributed between these 4 levels.